The Qatar crisis: The US and petrodollars

ISTANBUL
Published 09.06.2017 23:40
Updated 10.06.2017 11:27

When I visited Saudi Arabia after the second Gulf war, the Saudi state had begun to cut back the generous salaries it paid to public servants. As the Saudi state has been famous for its oil wealth, it was difficult for me to understand that financial recession. Two of my learned friends who were working in Jeddah at that time, namely Dr. Selim Cafer Karataş, who graduated from Columbia University, and professor Talip Alp, who currently studies in the United Kingdom, clearly explained through their extensive knowledge of the Arabian Peninsula, the periodical usurpation of Arabian oil and natural gas wealth.

As soon as a significant amount of wealth was accumulated in the Middle East, they said, Western states took measures for usurping or disposing of that wealth. In the 1980s, such an accumulation of wealth was achieved in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as the rise of Saudi investments in the United States proved. However, as war erupted between Iraq and Iran, Saudi Arabia gave arms aid to Iraq's Saddam Hussein. It was argued that the arms bought from the U.S. by Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries were worth about $900 billion. Saddam Hussein's occupation of Kuwait in pursuit of wealth alarmed the world regarding the weapons in his possession. For preventing the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and protecting Saudi Arabia against Iraq, another $500 billion was taken from the Saudis. In a similar vein, at the end of second Gulf war, then U.S. President George W. Bush openly demanded money from Gulf countries for the expenditures of the war.

During the administration of President Barack Obama, Iran expanded its zone of political influence by penetrating into Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Anxious about the aggressive expansion of Iran, Saudi Arabia has become one of the heated supporters of President Donald Trump's bold policies.

In our age of volatility, alliances and enmities easily and swiftly turn upside down. The Syrian people's demand for a more democratic and prosperous country was sacrificed for the capricious interests of international powers. While Iran took its stance for Syria's Bashar Assad, Iran and Turkey came face to face. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia realized a massive military exercise of an "Islamic army" against Iranian aggression. Remaining close to Middle Eastern countries, Turkey is one of the few states that supports Qatar in its crisis with the other Gulf countries. While Turkey is anxious about the regional results of a possible military intervention to Qatar, Iran turns its face to Turkey by surpassing its Persian pride.

Qatar, which seems to be on the target board, has already accumulated great wealth from its natural gas exports. The annual salary of an English engineer in Qatar, which was itself founded by the U.K., has been around $100,000. While protecting its commercial ties with the country, Qatar's opening to the global economy might have disturbed the British administration. Yet, the main issue is cutting off financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The alliance established by Saudi Arabia against Qatar might drag the whole region onto dangerous courses, while the U.S. seems to be nourished from a creative chaos in the Middle East.

Muslims should act with prudence and in solidarity. Turkey's calls for moderation and dialogue in the Qatar crisis should be appreciated. As in the nuclear crisis between global powers and Iran, Turkey's multidimensional foreign policy, which puts diplomatic channels of dialogue forward, shall strengthen not only Turkey's leadership, but also stability in the Middle East.

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